Fireworks cause of Rawlins blaze

Multiple agencies respond to grassland fire in Rawlins on July 6

A grassland fire caused by fireworks—which are illegal in Carbon County—burned nearly five acres and, at its peak, required 40 firefighters and 17 firefighting apparatus.

At around 7:30 p.m. on July 6, the Rawlins Fire Department responded to a call for a grassland fire off Rodeo Court, according to a press release from the City of Rawlins. The fire spread into a nearby salvage yard in the 700 and 800 blocks between East Cedar and East Spruce streets, behind Fremont Motors and Skyline Motors.

By 10 p.m., according to the press release, the fire’s footprint had been contained with crews being staggered by 12:30 a.m. Firefighters remained on the scene until 2:30 p.m. on July 7 to ensure the fire was fully under control. As of July 9, it was reported there were still hotspots due to the fuel load with small fires still being monitored.

Rawlins Fire Department was aided by the Bureau of Land Management - High Desert Fire, the Carbon County Fire Protection District, Town of Elk Mountain Fire Department, HF Sinclair Fire Department, Town of Sinclair Fire Department and Town of Wamsutter Fire Department. Additionally, the Rawlins Police Department was aided by the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Sinclair Police Department and Wyoming Highway Patrol in traffic control and command with a total of 14 officers.

Assistance was also provided by Classic Air Medical, Memorial Hospital of Carbon County Emergency Medical Services, Rocky Mountain Power and City of Rawlins Utilities. According to the press release, the only injury was one head scratch on a firefighter which was treated at the scene. There were no injuries to civilians and no official evacuation orders were issued.

An estimated one million gallons of water was used from five hydrants in fighting the fire. The fire spread to four-and-a-half acres and affected three storage outbuildings, 12 uninhabitable trailers, two boxcars and acres of salvage yard. Two other properties near the original fire had limited grassland burning and a spot fire was contained on the south side of Cedar Street before any vehicles or structures were affected.

The amount of water used to fight the fire, according to the press release, was comparable to one-third of daily summer home, business or irrigation use. It was also noted in the press release there was sufficient water available and the treated water storage tank levels were not affected. One hydrant did break after water flow was established, but the water flow could not be turned off nor could the hose be disconnected until the hydrant was shut off upstream by the City of Rawlins utilities division.

This did not negatively impact the firefighting, according to the press release.

Power was also cut to a large area of Rawlins to assist with firefighter access and safety. Once the specific fire area was isolated, power was restored to the general community.

“The Rawlins Fire Department is so grateful to the professional and civilian community for their assistance in this large fire. Each firefighers who responded, including the 26 from other agencies, was vital to keeping the fire from spreading to nearby businesses,” said Rawlins Fire Department Chief Allen Robinson. “Our partners in law enforcement, medical care and utilities provided crucial support in keeping our firefighters and community safe. Civilians responded in their regular jobs and donated water, food and equipment both during and afterward to ensure the firefighters had everything necessary to fight the fire. We cannot thank everyone enough.”

The investigation into the fire is still in progress.


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